The original Nintendo Entertainment System was released in the United States in August, 1985. Backed by classic games such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and Excitebike, the NES was instantly a major hit and a must-have in living rooms across the country. Its graphics were far superior to any home-based console that had come before it, leaving gamers with the feeling that their homes had been transformed into real-life arcades.
Processor: 8bit custom Motorola 6502
CPU Speed: 1.79Mhz
RAM: 2 kb
Video RAM: 2 kb
Colors: 52, 16 on-screen
The original Super Nintendo Entertainment System was first released in 1991, and it immediately raised the bar for video game designers around the globe. Featuring true stereo sound, multiple scrolling backgrounds and almost twice the internal memory as its competition, the SNES was home to the biggest, baddest games of its day. Backed by an all-star lineup of classic Player's Choice games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country and Super Metroid, the Super NES has sold more than 20 million systems in the U.S. and 46 million systems worldwide.
CPU: 16-bit Custom 65C816 running at 1.79, 2.68 or 3.58 MHz (changeable)
RAM: 1 Mbit (128 Kbyte)
Memory Cycle Time: 279 ms
Picture Proccessor Unit: 16-bit
Video RAM: 0.5 Mbit (64 Kbyte)
Resolution: 256x224, 512 x 448 pixels max hi res and interlaced modes
Colours Available: 32,768 colours
Max colours on screen: 256 colours
Max sprite size: 64 x 64 pixels
Max sprites: 128 (32 per line)
Min/Max Cart Size: 2 Mbit - 48 Mbit
Audio RAM: 512 Kbit
Sound chip: 8-bit Sony SPC700
Sound channels: 8, uses compressed wave samples
Controller Response: 16 ms
Pulse Code Modulator: 16-bit
Power Input: 120V AC, 60Hz, 17 Watts
Power Output: 10V DC, 850 mA (NTSC), 9V AC (PAL)
Nintendo stretched the life of their 16-bit console for as long as they could. Their initial attempts at entering the market with a 32-bit CD add-on (see Playstation) never saw the light of day. After the releases of Sony and Sega’s 32-bit systems, Nintendo began spreading the word of their new console in development. The leap to a 64-bit console became known as Project Reality. The system was a joint venture by Nintendo and Silicon Graphics. Nintendo would later change the name to ‘Ultra 64’.
CPU: Custom 64-bit MIPS R4300i-class RISC CPU
CPU Speed: 93.75 MHz 93 MIPS
RAM: 4 MB
Colors: 16.7 million w/ 32,000 on screen
Polygons: 150,000 with all features
The Sega Master System was a console of firsts. It was Sega's first console to be released in North America. It was the first designed to use two types of gaming media -- cartridges and cards. It was the first to experiment with virtual reality in the form of 3-D Glasses. It was also home to the first console RPG to be released in the States -- Phantasy Star. This maverick system was a massive hit in Europe and South America; and while only a moderate success in North America.
CPU: 3.6 MHz, 8-bit Z80 processor
Video Ram: 16K
Screen Resolution: 256 x 192
Color Palette: 32 onscreen, 64 total
Sound: 4-channel mono
Media Format: Cartridges and cards
Outputs and Ports: RF/AV outputs, expansion port, two controller ports
Genesis: a term meaning birth, origin, a new beginning. For Sega, a more prophetic name could not have been chosen. Not only was the Genesis system a chance for rebirth in the home console market, but it also marked the beginning of the 16-bit gaming era. With powerful hardware, innovative software, and cutting-edge marketing, the Genesis shook up the gaming world while giving Sega the lead in the U.S. video game market. The Genesis also gave birth to a new identity for Sega, in the form of a speedy, irreverent hedgehog by the name of Sonic.
CPU: 7.67 MHZ, 16-bit Motorola 68000 processor
Video Ram: 64K
Screen Resolution: 320 x 224
Color Palette: 64 onscreen, 512 total
Sound: 6-Channel FM Stereo
Media Format: Cartridge
Outputs and Ports: RF/AV outputs, expansion port, two controller ports, headphone jack (Genesis 1), 9-pin EXT port (Genesis 1)
Around March 12th 1997 rumors began to surface about what originally began as a 64-bit upgrade for the Sega Saturn. Eventually news began to leak about Sega’s development of a totally new console. The first console to venture into online gameplay, The dreamcast has a built-in 56K modem. With 128-bit processing, 3D audio capabilities and stellar 3D graphics, your gameplay experience just got better.
CPU Speed: 200MHz / 360 MIPS
Video RAM: 8MB
Colors: 16.7 million colors
Polygons: 3 million per second
The Playstation (a.k.a PSX) was released shortly after the Sega Saturn on December 2nd 1994. The console was an immediate success selling over 100,000 units it's first weekend. Developers found the Playstation simpler to develop for then it's 32-bit rival Saturn. Sony then took it's console abroad. The Sony Playstation immediately saw success in America in on September 9th 1995 driven by a strong advertising campaign, and a price $100 cheaper then Sega Saturn. Europe saw releases a month later. The PSX eventually claimed the number one videogame console sales position by beating out the Saturn, and even maintaining it's position after the eventual release of Nintendo's 64-bit console.
CPU: R3000A 32 bit RISC
CPU Speed: 33.8688MHz 30 MIPS
RAM: 2 MB
Video RAM: 1MB
Colors: 16.7 million on screen
Polygons: 500,000 Texture mapped
Game Media: Compact Disk
Atari 5200 was established in 1982 to compete with Intellivision, and to become the successor of the Atari 2600. The 5200 enjoyed moderate success, but never reached the overall success of it's predecessor the Atari 2600. Resources which should have been allocated for 5200 game development went instead to the 2600, a system which was on its last legs and already saturated with software from Atari and its third party publishers.
CPU Speed: 1.78Mhz
Video RAM: N/A
Colors: 256, 16 on-screen
The Atari 7800 was originally designed in 1983, But was released in 1986. The Atari 7800 was brought out of storage to compete against Nintendo's NES and Sega's Master System. The Atari 7800 also played classic 2600 games and revamped versions of older arcade classics, but gamers wanted new original games. The console "died-out" in 1989.
CPU Speed: 1.79Mhz
Video RAM: N/A
Colors: 256, 16 on-screen
Nintendo first released their gameboy in 1989 it was a box shaped handheld, using a small black and white screen. Games on the gameboy were relativly simple due to the 8-bit processor and the black and white screen which it used. The size of the gameboy was cut back in the gameboy pocket edition it was lighter then the original gameboy but by far the greatest advancement was the gameboy colour. The gameboy colour featured a full colour LCD screen which gave developers the ability to finally use colours in their games.
CPU Speed: 8Mhz
Video RAM: 16K
Colors: 32,768 colours; Supports 10,32, or 56 simultaneous colours on-screen
Power: 2 AA batteries provide 30+ hours, AC Adapter (DC 3V), Indicator LED Input: 8 way D-Pad, 4 buttons, volume dial, power switch, Serial I/O, Infrared I/O, Cart I/O
IR: Less than 2 metres at 45 degrees
The GameBoy Advanced was released to the public on March 21st 2001. It's more powerfull then the original Gameboy in any way while maintaining about the same size and is fully backwards compartible. It also has a vast gaming library which is still expanding rapidly.
32-Bit ARM with embedded memory
RAM: 32K WRAM + 256K WRAM
Video RAM: 96K
Colors: 32000 colours
The Neo Geo Pocket was released on October 27, 1998 in Japan. It was meant to compete with Nintendo's GameBoy but unfortunatly most of the games were released later then expected thus leaving the system with a very small game library at the beginning. The Neo Geo Pocket Color was released shortly after the normal Neo Geo (March 1999) and had an impressive reflective 4k color TFT screen with apporximatly 40 hours of running time powered by just two AA batteries. Shortly after this however a new version was released of the Neo Geo Color which was both smaller and lighter.
16-bit Toshiba TLCS900H (6.144MHZ), Z80 sound processor (3.072MHZ)
RAM: 12KB for core processor, 4KB for Z80 processor
Video RAM: 96K
Colors: 8 / 4096 (146 on screen)
On October 30, 1987 the first 16-Bit home entertainment system was released in Japan by NEC. The PC Engine was clearly the "next generation" system with it's amazing specs, and wallet sized card games called "HuCards". The PC Engine was immensely popular in Japan, outselling the Famicom by a significant margin. With it's advanced graphics it dominated the Japanese market.
2 8-bit HuC6280 processors 3.16Mhz each.
Video RAM: 64K
Colors: 256 onscreen out of 512
After several attempts in the console manufacturing business, and hot on the heels of the Playdia, Bandai saw in the Wonderswan a new opportunity to recycle his multiple anime and manga licenses. The beginning of the Wonderswan history sounds like a remake of the SNK Neo Geo Pocket experience, as Bandai started at first to ship the Wonderswan in black & white early 2000, before switching to a more popular color edition of the system within same year. Same as the Neo Geo Pocket Color, the Wonderswan Color line-up has its very own specialties, such as Japanese RPGs and mostly Anime licensed games.
CPU Speed: 3.072 MHz
Video RAM: ???
Colors: 241 colors display out of 4096 palette
Source(s): Dark Watcher's Console History and Lik-sang